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The Value-Added Approach to Marketing
by: Cary Christian

The other day I was considering buying a new 3 wood (a golf club for those of you who don't follow golf). I hadn't been hitting mine very well and thought it might have something to do with too little loft and the wrong shaft.

So I set out visiting various golf sites on the web to see if I could find a good deal on a new one. I found the club I wanted on six or seven sites and selected the site with the best price.  As I began completing the order form I realized that I had a problem. If, as I thought, I wasn't hitting my 3 wood well because it had the wrong loft and shaft, how would I know my new club wouldn't have the same problems? Should I just arbitrarily get a club with more loft and a less stiff shaft? How would I know that would be any better?

So I backed out of the order form and started searching the site for information that would help me determine what the correct loft and shaft type would be for me. And I searched in vain. The information was not there. At best, my purchase from this site was deferred. At worst, the site lost a sale permanently.

Can this happen to you with what you sell on your website? Do you provide all the information and assistance your customers will need to purchase from you intelligently or will they have to look elsewhere? If they have to look elsewhere, they are likely to purchase elsewhere also.

Never make the assumption that people always know exactly what they're looking for when they are shopping. They don't. They know they want an item, but if there are various choices available and different price ranges for a product, doubt will creep in. Doubt can ultimately cause your customer to defer the purchase or decide to purchase the item in a brick and mortar store where a salesperson can help them make the decisions that must be made.

If you can remove the doubt associated with the purchasing decision, you will make the sale. How do you do this? By bundling services with your products in a very clear and straightforward manner.

In most cases, the service you are bundling will be information. In other cases, it might be telephone installation support. Whatever it is, it will involve your determining what difficulties a potential customer might be confronted with when considering your products. Give this some serious thought.  Identify those points that might cause your customers discomfort and then give your best effort to integrating the answers into your sales process.

When I was completing the order form for my 3 wood, a separate page was displayed asking me for the loft and flex I wanted on the club. These questions were the only ones on an otherwise empty page. The site could have erased my discomfort in any of three ways:

1. Since the page was largely empty, they could have included a brief discussion of loft and flex along with recommendations right there on the page.

2. They could have included a button that opened a pop-up screen with information on selecting the proper loft and flex.

3. They could have provided a link to another page or even another website that opened in a new browser window and addressed my concerns but left my order form open in the background.

Any one of these three options would have resulted in an immediate sale as long as my concerns were adequately addressed.

The site could also have had links to this type of helpful information on the pages where the products are displayed or could have provided a separate section devoted to choosing the proper equipment. The method selected is not so important as long as the information is readily available.

Ask yourself these three simple questions:

* How do my customers use my products?

* When using my products, what features and benefits are, or should be, important to the customer?

* What do I need to tell the customer about those features to make sure they get the benefit they desire and understand exactly what they need to order?

Address these information needs and you will increase the sales conversion ratio of your site.

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